Cognitive NeuroscienceEmergence of mind from brain

Published May 2010 Updated January 2013 15 lectures
Prof. James McClelland
Stanford University, USA
Prof. Matthew Lambon-Ralph
University of Manchester, UK

It was only a century and a half ago when it became clear that the human brain is the seat of human cognitive abilities, and it was only a century ago when it became clear that the brain consists of a vast number of specialized cells called neurons, which communicate... read morewith each other via electrical and chemical signals. Careful investigation of patterns of deficits in patients with brain damage or particular types of brain disorders have helped to delineate the effects of damage to particular regions of the brain.

Subsequent technological and conceptual developments now allow cognitive and systems neuroscientists to record from neurons (sometimes hundreds at a time) in mamy different areas of the brain, or to monitor neural activity non-invasively, albeit at lower spatial and/or temporal resolution. Together with the burgeoning of experimental findings, there has also been a steady growth in the use of mathematical and computer simulation models to explore how the propagation of activity among neurons can give rise to all the achievements of the mind – from simple things we take for granted, such as the recognition of someone’s face, to far more complex cognitive processes, such as reconstruction of a memory of a past experience or finding a novel solution to a challenging problem.

We seek to present a state-of-the-art overview of our understanding of these issues. Our series will begin by developing a conceptual framework and base of essential knowledge about the overall structure of the brain, and of the processing, learning, and representation of information within the brain. We then present a series of lectures devoted to particular aspects of cognitive function, and another series dedicated to the research methods used to investigate these functions. Lectures in both series are mutually reinforcing and can be encountered in either order. While each sequence has a natural progression, the individual lectures should stand reasonably well on their own so that individuals with specific interests can chose those that are of most interest to them.

Aspects of Cognition (14 Lectures)